Which players arrived in Miami with the most fanfare? Did they live up to the hype or did they fail miserably?
That's what Hot Hot Hoops writers were tasked with recalling when SB Nation Basketball announced this topic for another league-wide theme post today in which all of our esteemed blogs will be naming their chosen players.
Truthfully, the illustrious Heat franchise may have one or two obvious names but also have several candidates that came to Miami with big dreams and hefty expectations...
#6 - Eddie Jones
On the topic of hype, when one thinks of the Miami Heat it's impossible not to consider Eddie Jones. This wearer of the now famed #6 jersey was the pride and joy of Miami before Dwyane Wade, or Shaquille O'Neal arrived in the sunshine state. Eddie Jones was traded to Miami in 2000 after a stellar season in Charlotte where he averaged 20 points per game. His scoring prowess didn't falter in Miami either. Jones was extremely consistent in his play from 2000-2005 before being traded to Memphis just before the Heat's championship year.
Now the question that remains is did he live up the hype? I think he did. Jones was always a stellar contributor and reliable teammate. While he wasn't able to maintain his star ways once Dwyane Wade blossomed, he still contributed decent numbers all season. Miami even relied on him again for a season when Wade's shoulder injury occurred. While he didn't achieve anything spectacular with the team Eddie Jones was a great athlete, and the 3 time All-Star deserved any hype that surrounded him in his prime.
- Brandon Di Perno
#5 - Mike Bibby
I'm going to go against the obvious and not choose Michael Beasley on this one. Instead I'll jump straight to a player who sacrificed $6.2 million with a midseason buyout to come to Miami, Mike Bibby.
After being traded from the Atlanta Hawks to the Washington Wizards, then to the free-agent market and onto the Miami Heat's roster there was quite a bit of hype during the 2010-11 season that the team had found its point guard as they pushed for the playoffs and first championship of the Big Three Era.
Receiving a standing ovation in his Heat debut, Bibby scored just three points against the Orlando Magic, which turned out to be the prelude to his short and disappointing stint with the team.
Bibby was a bust of Biblical proportions for the Heat in the playoffs. Playing in 20 of Miami's postseason games, he averaged 3.7 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists in just under 21 minutes per game.
Just ask Dwyane Wade, he hasn't forgotten either. During the Heat's first round series in the 2011-12 playoffs against the New York Knicks, Wade took a shot at Bibby during one of his shooting explosions against Miami.
"Yeah, I know a little bit about Mike. I know Mike has made more shots in this series than he made all last year," Wade said with a smile. "Send that to Mike."
I guess it was just wishful thinking that Miami had landed the Mike Bibby that still had a bit of his Sacramento Kings days left in him. However, all that was left was merely just a shell.
- Darryl Lee Sang
#4 - Alonzo Mourning
Just 67 days after arriving in Miami, Pat Riley quickly acted upon Alonzo Mourning's unhappiness in Charlotte and managed to pry him loose by offering the Hornets a package built around sharpshooter Glen Rice, then the Heat's most accomplished player and centerpiece of the franchise. But as good as Rice was, having an All-Star center who could defend and block shots with a tenacity not seen in Miami since...well, ever....was precisely what Riley needed as a centerpiece for his franchise.
But it wasn't just the ferocious defensive mentality that Zo possessed that made him special, the 6'-10" big man from Georgetown also had some nifty moves around the basket on the other end that most centers these days can only dream of having. Before injuries and a failed kidney slowed him down in his prime, Alonzo was a guaranteed double-double machine while doing all the little things to help his team win. Paired with Tim Hardaway and a savvy core of veterans, the Heat were as strong as any NBA team in that era....that didn't have Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen on their roster.
Alonzo definitely lived up to his hype, but Jordan and kidney disease - both out of his control - kept him from getting his NBA ring until 2006, in which he contributed off the bench in back-up of Shaq to give the Heat a dangerous 1-2 punch of big men. With his number now retired at AmericanAirlines Arena and his legacy secured, Alonzo is and will always be fondly remembered as one of the greatest Heat players in franchise history.
- Surya Fernandez
#3 - Michael Beasley
If we're talking about failing to live up, it's hard to not go with Michael Beasley here. Let's be clear, he is the best prospect that Miami has ever drafted, relative to his pre-draft status, not the results. He was a monstrous talent. He was long, athletic, and supremely skilled for a power forward, and was the consensus first overall pick for most of the season before Derrick Rose's stock rose (no pun intended).
I was never more excited about any Heat draft than the 2008 NBA Draft. Beasley was a sure fire All-Star who was going to put 20 points in the bucket every single night at ease. He was going to give Dwyane Wade a partner to bring Miami back to contention. Wade ended up getting together with a couple of good partners, I would say, but Beasley gave us all a lot of hope at one point.
Obviously, he did not live up to that lofty hype that was projected when he was a teenager.
- Jay Ramos
#2 - Shaquille O'Neal
There had never been anyone more hyped in Miami Heat history than the arrival of Shaquille O'Neal in 2005. You may say..."LeBron James!" these days but if you can jog your memory nearly a decade you can remember what it was like when Shaq come onto the scene. The city of Miami threw a parade for the 3-time champion and MVP upon his arrival to the team - before they ever won anything! Shaq came with the biggest of expectations, even promising a championship at the conclusion of the parade.
Although Shaq didn't deliver a dynasty or multiple titles with the Heat, he lived up to the hype. He instantly turned the Heat into a contender. Unlike LeBron James, who had lots of hatred coming to the Heat in 2010, Shaq made the Heat likable. In his first season, he led them to the best record in the East and all the way to a Game 7 of the Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons, one that many believed they would have won if Dwyane Wade stayed healthy. The very next season, Shaq was a crucial part of the team that won the title over the Dallas Mavericks. Despite Wade being dominant and the Finals MVP, it wouldn't have been possible without Shaq's presence to get them that far.
Shaq was hyped, maybe over hyped. But he delivered a championship, and for a center in his 30's it's hard to call that failure. He was arguably the most hyped incoming player in Heat history, but he isn't the best. That man still plays for the Heat...
- Matt Pineda
#1 - LeBron James
LeBron James entered the Miami Heat franchise with more overall hype than anyone ever in the NBA. He turned the Heat into instant title contenders, and not only that he anticipated 8 championships. A back-to-back MVP in his prime jumping board with a top three player will make you famous. And James had all the hype you could ask for. Enormous expectations were put on the back of the Heat, much of that from themselves, and they lived up to a lot of it, just not all the way at first.
Obviously, the Heat lost in the NBA Finals in 2011, James' first year with the team. But back-to-back championships since then has proved that LeBron has lived up to the hype. And consecutive MVPs with the Heat has proved that not only did he make the right choice, but that he is capable of doing it all. LeBron is still living up to those expectations and he likely will for the rest of his career. But no one has ever seen the type of hype that LeBron has by joining a team. A national television special? A party inside the AAA, and every game sold out just to boo him and his decision.
LeBron still gets the most hype. But he deserves it and is in the process of exceeding the hype set before him.
- Matt Pineda
In the illustrious history of the Miami Heat, no player has come in with more hype than LeBron James. A two-time defending MVP who was only 25 when he took his talents to South Beach, the Heat even held a celebration in the AmericanAirlines Arena when he, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh signed six-year contracts with Miami. James has undoubtedly lived up to the hype, even after taking his disappointing, tentative performance from the 2011 NBA Finals into account.
James covers up all of the flaws on the Heat. When Bosh suffered an injury in the second round of the 2012 playoffs, the two-time NBA champion answered the bell time and again when it looked like Miami's season was on the brink of unraveling. He carried Miami past a proud Boston Celtics team when Bosh was just returning from injury and Wade was at 75 percent. And he out-dueled Kevin Durant in the subsequent NBA Finals, even taking the challenge of defending him. His work the following season was even better. He shot an incredible 56.5 percent from the field last season and propelled Miami to a historic 27-game winning streak. Again, he masked the Heat's holes against the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs, even showcasing his improved 3-point shot in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. He's vindicated himself.
- Diego Quezada
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